Video: Women finding it hard to retire

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 10/11/2006 9:55:35 AM ET 2006-10-11T13:55:35

As boomers approach retirement, many are choosing to continue working. For men, it's often because they want to — but for an increasing number of women in this country, it's a “have to.” They simply don't have the means to retire. And because women tend to live longer and earn less, it's a critical issue.

Doreen Stiles is spending her golden years in Colorado Springs but is still searching for the gold.

"It's not the retirement I pictured," Stiles says.

Instead of enjoying time outdoors, she's inside working in a clothing store 50 hours a week.

Stiles can't afford to retire: Her savings aren't enough, she's divorced and the years she took off to raise children reduced her Social Security.

"Most of my friends plan on working until we're at least 70, because it's just not there," Stiles says.

It's a realization keeping millions of women on the job longer.

Since 1980, the number of working women over 65 has increased almost 40 percent while men's participation hasn't changed.

"The boomer women who are turning 60 are not prepared for retirement," says Cindy Hounsell with the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement. "They haven't saved enough. They don't have the retirement income from pensions."

And when they do get a pension, it's often less than half what a man receives. His yearly average is about $7,000. Hers is $2,600.

Some women enter job retraining programs — new careers in their 60s and 70s.

"It's never too late," says Hounsell. "You know how much money is saved, you know what your expenses are and you sit down and make your own little plan."

That's something Karen Christian was forced to do after her husband died.

"I lost my house and went into bankruptcy," Christian says.

She made a budget, got a job in a restaurant and can again pay the bills.

"It's not a pleasant thing to admit that you can't maintain yourself financially," she says.

The dream of a carefree retirement — for many of this country's working women, it's just a fantasy.

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